SPI High School French Immersion & Cultural Leadership in France

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About

SPI Study Abroad's high school French immersion program in Biarritz gives students the opportunity to truly experience France from an insider's perspective. Gracefully situated on the southwestern Atlantic coast, Biarritz is a luxurious French seaside town full of summertime amenities that attracts families from all over the country! Also known as the surf capital of Europe, this vibrant city comes to life with spectacles of live music, surf competitions, artists, and parades. Students live with caring homestay families, attend French language and culture class for college credit, participate in a variety of engaging cultural activities, and travel to some of the country's most amazing sites — creating memories that last a lifetime!

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Reviews

9.07 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 78.57%
  • 7-8 rating 14.29%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 7.14%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 9.5
  • Support 7.9
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 8.8
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 14
Default avatar
Jennie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer In France for our Son

Our son had a fantastic experience. He had just finished his freshman year of high school and we were very hesitant to send him abroad. Everyone at SPI assured us that he would be safe - and he was! I was really happy with all their support over the phone with Megan at the office. She really made me feel comfortable, for which I am forever grateful - otherwise we probably wouldn't have sent him!

Recently he was asked to rate his experience from 1 to 10 by his French teacher. He gave it a 12! As hard as it was to let him go to another country, it was the best thing we could have done for him.

He safely returned to us as a much more mature and confident young man. Thank you so much SPI for the fabulous summer experience in Biarritz. What a wonderful program and city!

What would you improve about this program?
as far as a parent perspective goes, the preparation and on-site support while our kiddos are gone is the most important. SPI provided REALLY thorough help - but maybe they could post more pictures although they did update frequently on blog.
Default avatar
Arianna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Two-Week Junction

The two weeks I spent in France last year mark a turning point in my studies of the French language, in my preparedness for university (I participated in SPI's program leading up to my first semester of college) and, more personally, as a first taste of independence. Since completing the program, my French has improved immensely; a year and a half later, I can mostly understand the language (spoken and written), and feel much more comfortable responding with a complex/detailed answer and conversing than I did before attending the program. As far as personal experience, the program provided an opportunity to explore a new place, meet new people, and problem solve independently; in this respect it was a valuable learning experience: I can now read maps like books, know how to ask for directions/help in French, can navigate a shop, use public transportation, etc.
Moreover, the program DEFINITELY gave me a unique experience as a participant-observer to daily life in Biarritz. Living with a homestay family had (still HAS, really) the most significant impact, for the experience showed me that language and culture is NOT necessarily a barrier, that with some effort and good humour, communication and connection is possible (and rewarding) between people, regardless fo their background.

Default avatar
Quincy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Now I live in France!

I was sitting out in the surf line up in Biarritz, France, when everything clicked. I was sitting next to my instructor as we waited for a new set of waves to roll towards the beach. He asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Biarritz, how long I was staying, and how long I had been speaking French. It was after I answered his questions that I realized how much and how well I had understood him and how I was able to respond comfortably! It was this moment in Biarritz that gave me the confidence, experience, and practice to spend this year abroad in Brittany. SPI Feance has the perfect ratio of classes, trips, and free time. I was able to take surfing and cooking, and there were numerous other options as well. Another great thing about SPI is the wide range of experience each student had with the language. I had only taken French for one year, and I came out of the program capable of communicating a little bit of everything in French! SPI is a great program for anyone who loves language, travel, and having fun.

Default avatar
Zac
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went to France with SPI

I went to France with SPI study abroad last summer. It was cool because I learned a lot of French and met new friends. I went to Paris with my parents and sister before but this was my first time with out my family. This summer was better because I had a cool roommate and my homestay mom was the best cook and helped me with my accent. The classes were different than at my school and you get a transcript afterwards. My teacher was cool and told my roommate and I where the good restaurants were. I liked that I could go to the beach with friends when it was sunny and didn't have to always be with a director. The activities were fun and I saw a lot. One day we went hiking and I was like "what?" but then we got there and it was nice. I tell people I hiked in the Pyrenees and they think I'm cool. Those are the mountains there.

I think SPI is good because I had a lot of fun and learned more French than I thought I would. The directors were nice and were like my big sisters. My AP teacher doesn't make fun of my accent any more. I take French IV AP this year and it would be a lot harder if I didn't go to France. That was my summer.

What would you improve about this program?
My room was kinda small. I know that's how Europe is but I only had a double size bed. A little later of a curfew would of been cool to because the sun sets really late and the city is safe.
Default avatar
Mia
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Great experience but program support and services are lacking

I did a 3-week session starting in Paris for sightseeing, followed by a homestay in Biarritz, France. I loved the host family and Biarritz area, as well as the friends I made on the trip. One of the criticisms I have is that despite the hefty cost of the trip we were required to pay out of pocket for almost everything, including admissions fees, public transportation, meals, etc. The only thing that seemed to be covered was the 3-night hotel stay in Paris and the TGV trip to Biarritz. In addition, my friend and had a roommate situation at our homestay that was quite disturbing. The SPI coordinators refused to believe our side of the story and basically accused us of lying.
One other thing: do not rent a cell phone from their recommended vendors. We used PicCell wireless, and after all was said and done the total for a month long rental cost over $600! We could have activated my US smart phone for international use for the time I was there and it would not have cost that much.

Response from SPI Study Abroad

While we fully appreciate and value all of the feedback we receive from our former students, it is also necessary that we address the concerns brought forth in this particular review.

As SPI states on our “What’s Included” page, spending varies greatly by person according to his or her preferences. So, while all program-related expenses are covered by the total tuition, we also recommend bringing a weekly budget of $250-$300 per week. This budget includes local transportation ($50), optional elective activities ($100), meals on overnight excursions ($50) and personal spending money ($50-100.). When students regularly elect to eat out at restaurants rather than eating meals with their homestays (which are included in the tuition), an individual’s weekly budget can become grossly inflated.

SPI’s on-site staff is highly-trained to assist with all questions and concerns from our students, and we pride ourselves on providing the utmost in care and support at all times. When this particular concern was brought forth, the SPI Biarritz team investigated every angle thoroughly and completely from all parties involved, and the issue was resolved on-site. As any high school student can attest to, learning to co-exist with a roommate is one of the biggest and most important components of the pre-college experience that defines high school study abroad.

SPI has been utilizing PicCell Wireless for a number of years now due to the company’s reputation as the #1 cell service provider for study abroad students. As is the case with international phone rates, it’s crucial that students pay strict attention to roaming rates and texting charges, as these can contribute to a much higher monthly bill than anticipated.

We appreciate your feedback and wish you all the best in your upcoming endeavors!

Default avatar
Gabrielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My summer in Biarritz, France

The summer I went to Biarritz was one of the best summers of my life. I would 100% recommend this program to anyone who is studying french. My french improved so much, especially in listening (which for me is the hardest part), and I also learned so much about French culture. Living with a family was really nice and gave us a new perspective on life in foreign countries. My roommate was amazing and our host parents were lovely, we even had a host brothers and a sister and they were really helpful and nice! Biarritz is definitely the best place to study in France, the beach is beautiful, the people are so nice, and it has a really cool vibe! People from all around Europe come to study so you will get to meet all sorts of people!

Default avatar
Adrianna
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Biarritz Trip

I did the Biarritz- Paris extension trip and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Paris was great and it was amazing to see and experience the best France has to offer. My week in Paris was spent sight-seeing all over town and getting to know a great group of people. The first week was more about landmarks, museums, parks, and food rather than speaking French. Once we got to Biarritz and settled in with our host families the language part of the trip became habit. Every morning my roommate Ali and I would walk down to the language school, go to our classes until about lunch time when we would eat what out host mom made for us. After lunch we would go explore the city or go on an event with the whole group. Each day was filled with a new exciting experience! I would definitely recommend this trip!

What would you improve about this program?
I enjoyed the trip but the one thing I would change would be the housing arrangement. It was very crowded and the host family did not connect with my roommate and I very much
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Monica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

BEST DECISION EVER

A typical day in the program means waking up, going to class for about four hours, participating in the group day's planned activity, some free time, dinner, and then socializing at the beach. My french improved drastically; the teachers are enthusiastic and so likeable. The food is too good and the people you meet will open your mind; lots of foreigners go to Biarritz to improve their French, so you'll meet Swedes, Spanish, Irish, Italian, Swiss, German, Danish, Russian, and other people from different places. Aside from great classes and great people, the vibe is just wonderful. I made some insanely unforgetful memories in Biarritz, and I'm jealous of those who haven't lived it and have the opportunity to.

What would you improve about this program?
Honestly, I did the program twice, and loved it both times. However, even though my homestay mom was amazing, I guess if I had to complain about something it would be to have more food options...? It got a bit repetitive.